The race that stops the nation will stop Toowoomba this afternoon while the region holds its breath for “our horse” Incentivise.
- The Toowoomba-bred horse is a hot favorite for the race that stops the nation
- He won the Caulfield Cup two weeks ago and made it to nine wins in a row
- He is looking to become the first horse from Toowoomba to win the Melbourne Cup
The gelding, bred in southern Queensland, enters the race as a favorite for a short price (as low as $ 2.80 overnight), making him one of the most fancy horses in the Melbourne Cup since Phar Lap .
It comes after Incentivize took home the acclaimed Caulfield Cup – and a cool $ 3 million to its owners – just over two weeks ago.
Despite the huge event today, there is no pressure according to the horse’s breeder, original trainer and managing owner, Steve Tregea.
“These days don’t come that often; we’re just happy to win races in Toowoomba and Brisbane on Saturdays, that’s what we’re usually about,” he said.
“No matter what happens [on Tuesday], it’s going to be an adventure story because he won the main goal he had for this year, which was the Caulfield Cup.
“This is something unexpected and we are very happy to accept it.”
Not everyone sails smoothly
Incentivize enters the cup on the back of nine wins in a row, a series that began with his first win on the Sunshine Coast in April.
But the five-year career has not always been glorious victories and big paychecks; lack of racing experience and a bit of mishap meant his first three starts were the ones he had to forget.
“He was okay, he always showed abilities and always showed he wanted ground or distance in those races,” Tregea said.
The last time Incentivize tasted defeat was ironic in Toowoomba earlier this year when he was beaten by 16 lengths in a $ 20,000 virgin handicap.
Anthony Collins called the race that night but said there was something special about him.
“I actually said that night, ‘Forget it ever went around, he wants to win a race,'” he said.
“Little did I know he would continue to win a Caulfield Cup and be in the spotlight for the $ 7.7 million Melbourne Cup.
“To be a little associated with a champion, this kind of thing only happens to TV companies like myself once in a career.”
Incentivise’s fourth win – a nine-length bolting ring at Eagle Farm in Brisbane in early June – caught the attention of some cashed suitors, and Tregea sold a 50 per cent stake.
Part of the deal was to send the horse south for a spring campaign under the care of Peter Moody, the man who guided the career of the big black caviar.
Despite all of Moody’s success over the years, a Melbourne Cup trophy has escaped him.
Tregea said Moody’s Queensland connections – he was born in Charleville and raised in the small western town of Wyandra – contributed to his decision to send Incentivize south.
“I’m basically just a local boy and I don’t really want to travel too much,” Tregea said.
“But with the Melbourne Carnival on the way, it was the obvious situation to send him to one of the top coaches down there who has done it all before in Peter Moody.
The greatest horse ever to emerge from Darling Downs was the 1940s icon Bernborough.
He was so good that he was one of five inmates in the Australian Racing Hall of Fame along with people like Phar Lap.
But “Toowoomba Tornado” never ran in the Melbourne Cup, and with Incentivize on the verge of winning the big race, there is a hype in the garden city that looks like nothing before.
Toowoomba Turf Club CEO Lizzie King said there was a big buzz around the Clifford Park track.
“Toowoomba is the heartland of thoroughbred racing in Queensland; we produce amazing equestrian athletes every single year, but it’s so much, very exciting to see a hit on the world stage,” she said.
“That it’s one of our own horses that worked here, born and raised on the Downs, it’s just a little bit more special.